Mark Rylance to make his Bristol Old Vic debut this month

Mark Rylance to make his Bristol Old Vic debut this month

Posted on: 07 Jan 2022

Dr Semmelweis will run from Thursday 20 January to Saturday 12 February 2022.


Esteemed stage and screen actor Mark Rylance will make his Bristol Old Vic debut this month starring in Dr Semmelweis, a production he co-wrote with playwright Stephen Brown (Occupational Hazards).


Recipient of multiple awards, including three Tony Awards for on-stage excellence, Rylance's latest production is based on the life of the outspoken Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis, whose 19th-century discovery remains relevant in modern medicine.


The majority of performances are not socially distanced, however, there are a handful of shows that will be. There will also be a number of signed, captioned and audio-described performances, so be sure to check show descriptions carefully. Find tickets here.



Set in 19th century Vienna, the production follows Semmelweis’ battle to convince the medical establishment of the merit of his life-saving discovery, one which would prevent hundreds of thousands of new mothers from dying at a time when Childbed Fever was tearing through maternity wards.


At every turn, Semmelweis encounters doubt and rejection from his peers, eventually leading him to question his own sanity.


After years of fighting to prove his theory, the ghosts of the women he failed to save return to haunt him, leaving Semmelweis to answer the questions: Is it too late to convince the medical establishment to see the truth? And if he tries what will be the cost?


Rylance, who co-wrote the production, was previously artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe in London and has appeared in shows on the West End and Broadway. 


For his work in Jeruselum (2011), he was awarded both a Tony Award and an Olivier Award for best actor and has garnered a reputation as one of the finest performers in a generation.


Dr Semmelweis appears unmissable, so don't hesitate to grab yourself some tickets here. The production contains distressing themes concerning childbirth, illness and death with some strong language.

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George Boyle



George is a journalism graduate and writer passionate about music and culture. Get in touch via email at